Research Article
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From Androgynous to Hybrid Cybernetic Bodies: Salvation or More Subjugation?

Year 2023, Volume: 3 Issue: 2, 133 - 146, 31.10.2023

Abstract

Throughout the world, the predominant understanding of gender is based on the claim that there is a causal relationship between sex, gender, and body. The assumption is that first there is a sex, which is conveyed through a socially constructed gender, and then bodily desires and sexuality are shaped in accordance with that constructed gender. However, Virginia Woolf, one of the prominent literary figures of the twentieth century, persistently tries to challenge this assumption that all people fall into one of the two distinct gender categories, masculine or feminine, established on biological sex traits. For her, de(con)structing the gender distinctions and liberating the imprisoned body from the phallocentric determinism is possible through a dynamic and fluctuating quality of identity accompanied by a non-exclusive form of androgyny. In keeping with Woolf’s idea of androgyny, Jeanette Winterson, a contemporary British writer and critic, also stresses the importance of breaking free from the constraints imposed by heteronormativity through multifarious identities and gender fluidity. Nevertheless, Winterson takes this androgynous exploration of Woolf to a new level in her The Stone Gods (2007) by delving deeper into the concept of hybrid cybernetic bodies constructed through the implementations of twenty-first-century technology. Thus, considering the above discussions of Woolf and Winterson and basing its argument on gender and body politics of posthumanism, this paper explores whether this d/evolution from androgynous bodies to hybrid cybernetic bodies heralds salvation from phallocentric restrictions or poses more risks of subjugation for nonhu(man)s through the implementations of heteronormative technology.

References

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  • Blum, Virginia. Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery. University of California Press, 2003.
  • Braidotti, Rosi. Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming. Polity, 2002.
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  • ---. The Haraway Reader. Routledge, 2004.
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  • Plant, Sadie. “Beyond the Screen: Film, Cyberpunk and Cyberfeminism.” Feminisms, edited by Sandra Kemp and Judith Squires, Oxford UP, 1997, pp. 503–508.
  • ---. Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture. Fourth Estate, 1998.
  • Villegas-López, Sonia. “Body Technologies: Posthuman Figurations in Larissa Lai's Salt Fish Girl and Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, vol. 56, no. 1, 2015, pp. 26–41. doi:10.1080/00111619.2013.843503.
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  • ---. “Shape Shifter: The Joyous Transgressions of Virginia Woolf's Orlando.” New Statesman, 18 Feb. 2013, https://www.newstatesman.com/long-reads/2013/02
/shape-shifter-joyous-transgressions-virginia-woolf%E2%80%99s-orlando. Accessed 14 August 2023.
  • ---. “On The Stone Gods.” Home | Jeanette Winterson, 8 Oct. 2015, https://www.jeanettewinterson.com/. Accessed 20 Aug. 2023.
  • ---. Frankissstein: A Love Story. Jonathan Cape, 2019.
  • ---. “I Believe in Human Beings, Even Though They Have Done Some Terrible Things.”” CCCB LAB, 21 January 2020, https://lab.cccb.org/en/jeanette-winterson-i-believe-in-human-beings-even-though-they-have-done-some-terrible-things/. Accessed 20 August 2023.
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  • ---. “Is Humanity Smart Enough to Survive Itself? | Jeanette Winterson | TED.” YouTube, 1 Sept. 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYK6Tfb0snQ. Accessed 1 Sept. 2023.
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  • ---. The Death of the Moth and Other Essays. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974.
  • ---. Orlando: A Biography. Edited by Maria DiBattista, Harcourt, 2006.
Year 2023, Volume: 3 Issue: 2, 133 - 146, 31.10.2023

Abstract

References

  • Balsamo, Anne. “Forms of Technological Embodiment: Reading the Body in Contemporary Culture.” Cyberspace/Cyberbodies/Cyberpunk: Cultures of Technological Embodiment, edited by Mike Featherstone and Roger Burrows, SAGE, 1995, pp. 216–217.
  • Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke UP, 2010.
  • Blum, Virginia. Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery. University of California Press, 2003.
  • Braidotti, Rosi. Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming. Polity, 2002.
  • Carrasco, Rocío, et al. “Science Fiction and Bodies of the Future: Alternative Gender Realities in Hollywood.” Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 2015, pp. 67–80. doi:10.6531/JFS.2015.20(2).A67.
  • Daly, Mary. Gyn/Ecology: The Metaphysics of Radical Feminism. The Women’s Press, 1979.
  • Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Continuum, 2004.
  • Halberstam, Judith [Jack], and Ira Livingston. Posthuman Bodies. Indiana UP, 1995.
  • Hamzah-Osbourne, Shareena Z. “The Smallest Room of One’s Own: Virginia Woolf and Jeanette Winterson in Close Quarters.” Legacies and Lifespans in Contemporary Women’s Writing, edited by Gina Wisker et al. Springer International, 2023, pp. 111–138.
  • Haraway, Donna J. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Free Association, 1991.
  • ---. The Haraway Reader. Routledge, 2004.
  • Hayles, Katherine N. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. U of Chicago P, 1999.
  • Hurst, Rachel Alpha Johnston. “The Skin Textile in Cosmetic Surgery.” Skin, Culture and Psychoanalysis, edited by Sheila L. Cavanagh et al., Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 141–166.
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. “Head Cases | Books.” The Guardian, 22 Sept. 2007, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/sep/22/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror.fiction. Accessed 20 Aug. 2023.
  • Lokke, Kari Elise. “Orlando and Incandescence: Virginia Woolf’s Comic Sublime.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 38, 1992, pp. 235–252. doi:10.1353/mfs.0.0406.
  • Oppermann, Serpil. “From Posthumanism to Posthuman Ecocriticim.” Relations Beyond Anthropocentrism, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, pp. 23–37. doi:10.7358/rela-2016-001-oppe.
  • Pepperell, Robert. The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness beyond the Brain. Intellect, 2003.
  • Pickering, Andrew. “Reviewed Works: How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hayles: Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World by Stefan Helmreich.” Technology and Culture, vol. 41, no. 2, 2000, pp. 392–395.
  • Plant, Sadie. “Beyond the Screen: Film, Cyberpunk and Cyberfeminism.” Feminisms, edited by Sandra Kemp and Judith Squires, Oxford UP, 1997, pp. 503–508.
  • ---. Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture. Fourth Estate, 1998.
  • Villegas-López, Sonia. “Body Technologies: Posthuman Figurations in Larissa Lai's Salt Fish Girl and Jeanette Winterson's The Stone Gods.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, vol. 56, no. 1, 2015, pp. 26–41. doi:10.1080/00111619.2013.843503.
  • Winterson, Jeanette. The Stone Gods. Harcourt, 2007.
  • ---. “Shape Shifter: The Joyous Transgressions of Virginia Woolf's Orlando.” New Statesman, 18 Feb. 2013, https://www.newstatesman.com/long-reads/2013/02
/shape-shifter-joyous-transgressions-virginia-woolf%E2%80%99s-orlando. Accessed 14 August 2023.
  • ---. “On The Stone Gods.” Home | Jeanette Winterson, 8 Oct. 2015, https://www.jeanettewinterson.com/. Accessed 20 Aug. 2023.
  • ---. Frankissstein: A Love Story. Jonathan Cape, 2019.
  • ---. “I Believe in Human Beings, Even Though They Have Done Some Terrible Things.”” CCCB LAB, 21 January 2020, https://lab.cccb.org/en/jeanette-winterson-i-believe-in-human-beings-even-though-they-have-done-some-terrible-things/. Accessed 20 August 2023.
  • ---. Literary Rendezvous at Rue Cambon: Portrait of Virginia Woolf by Jeanette Winterson. 28 Sept. 2021. CHANEL Events, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcgZ1OHk1KY. Accessed 3 May 2023.
  • ---. “Is Humanity Smart Enough to Survive Itself? | Jeanette Winterson | TED.” YouTube, 1 Sept. 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYK6Tfb0snQ. Accessed 1 Sept. 2023.
  • Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. Harcourt, 1929.
  • ---. The Death of the Moth and Other Essays. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974.
  • ---. Orlando: A Biography. Edited by Maria DiBattista, Harcourt, 2006.

Details

Primary Language English
Subjects British and Irish Language, Literature and Culture, Modernist/Postmodernist Literature
Journal Section Research Articles
Authors

Muzaffer Derya SUBAŞI 0000-0002-0798-1142

Early Pub Date October 31, 2023
Publication Date October 31, 2023
Submission Date September 4, 2023
Published in Issue Year 2023 Volume: 3 Issue: 2

Cite

MLA SUBAŞI, Muzaffer Derya. “From Androgynous to Hybrid Cybernetic Bodies: Salvation or More Subjugation?”. IDEAS: Journal of English Literary Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, 2023, pp. 133-46.

IDEAS: Journal of English Literary Studies is published by The English Language and Literature Research Association of Türkiye (IDEA).